The average amount of time that car owners keep their cars is 11 years. By the end of that period, deterioration is normal so it may be time to scrap your car.

Losing your old car doesn’t have to be all that bad. There are car services that will actually pay you money for junk cars.

First, your car needs to prove its worth. Here’s why and how the value of junk cars may surprise you.


Most services value your car based on the raw materials inside. They’ll assess how much valuable metal your car contains, such as steel and aluminum. Then they’ll pay you accordingly.

If major parts of your car like the transmission or the engine are still in decent condition, you can receive a higher value.

If you need to dispose of your car and you’re pressed for time, scrapping the car is the quickest way to junk a car for cash.

For this method, you can use junkyards or cash for cars services, and the process to junk a car is fairly straightforward. You simply call the service, request junk car towing, negotiate the price, and receive compensation.

The Value of Junk Cars by Metal

As of September 30th, the price of a hot-rolled steel band in the U.S. is $622 per metric ton.

However, cars use up less than one ton of steel, especially since other metals are involved in the manufacturing process. Next to aluminum and copper, steel composes about 65% of the average vehicle.

The value of junk cars generally depends on who you approach, whether it’s a junk car service, a junkyard, or dealership.

Of these three options, junk car services are typically the most efficient and pay the highest. Junk Car Masters, for instance, boast that they offer as much as $500.

Other popular commercial services like Carvana and Carfax don’t make you any promises about your car’s value, but they have fair condition and price evaluations that you can get online or in person.

Getting Estimates

In addition to consulting car dealerships for estimates, you can self-assess the value on your own. Two of the best pricing references for used cars include Kelley Blue Book and the National Automotive Dealers Association.

Both resources have online portals to input your car’s information and determine its value. They also have used and new car reports that come from a combination of commercial and independent dealerships.

Besides materials, location also factors into the estimated value of your car. For instance, specialized vehicles such as SUVs and four-wheel-drive trucks receive higher values in areas that require these niche vehicles for their utility.

Car owners in areas with challenging terrains, like the Northeast or the Midwest, value these larger utility vehicles.


If you want to trade-in your old and walk out with a new one, you’ll need to visit a dealership.

However, this involves some strategy.  Scrappers have a more objective system because they determine value by your car’s actual weight, but dealerships value your car by their own system. Typically mileage and overall performance contribute the most to price.

To get the best deal for a new car, you should get quotes from at least three dealerships. Then, use the highest one to negotiate the value of your car and match it with a newer one.

Determining the Value of Junk Cars

There isn’t exactly a standard pricing method to determine the value of junk cars, but there ways to get a good estimate. Overall, factors such as location, weight by precious metals, mileage, and overall performance are the biggest factors that will influence the value.

If you need more tips for selling your used car or if you’re in the market to purchase a car, check out some of our car guides.